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Posts Tagged ‘Deaf-Blind’


It is time for the second installment about my trip to the aquarium. I hope you have fun reading about it, and it can bring encouragement that life after loss or with challenges can be full of love, learning, and fun.

http://homeschoolmosaics.com/my-visit-to-the-georgia-aquarium-part-2/

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You ever have something so exciting to say that it was too long to say all at once. Well, my trip to the Georgia Aquarium with husband and friends was just that. It was so exciting that it just didn’t all fit into one column on Homeschool Mosaics. I had lots of touches. Some were soft. Some were smooth. Some were squishy. Some were icky, but they were all fun. Join me over at Homeschool Mosaics to read all about the fun, but you have to come back next month to get the full story. It was just too much fun for one telling! Let’s go read all about the trip to the Georgia Aquarium.

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There are a lot of awesome things on Homeschool Mosaics this month about the holidays in regards to giving, remembering the importance of family, and including the Special Needs members. My column is all about how to include them in the upcoming festivities including the DeafBlind, so please check it out and think about those you may need to think about and how you need to do that to have the best holiday season for everyone!

http://homeschoolmosaics.com/include-your-special-needs-family-friends-in-your-holiday-gatherings/

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Have you ever been told or said that you can’t do something because of limitations or even disabilities? Well, let me share with you what I have learned through my own limitations and disabilities. Check out my post for this month on Homeschool Mosaics and then stick around and check out all the other great and wonderful writers found all in this one terrific place!

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The iPhone: Without Sight and Hearing

The Back Story: How this manual came to reality

 

This book came about because I fell in love with Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices. Yes, I can use both even though I am totally deaf and blind. You can, too. There is nothing special about me. I didn’t even own a braille display or even a screen reader before I got the iPhone 4 which was the first mobile device to totally integrate a screen reader and braille display support into their overall operating system, the iOS. At the AT&T store, the sales clerk really didn’t know what I was talking about when I asked him to set up my braille display. He turned on the bluetooth quickly after finding the Bluetooth on button in the general settings and then went to accessibility to turn on Voice Over and braille. The iPhone quickly and automatically discovered my RFB 18, and the clerk typed in the pairing numbers that my braille display manufacturer had given in the display’s manual. I couldn’t do this myself, but it was quick and easy for the clerk or any sighted person.

Then everything changed for me. I cried as I set up my email by myself and got my first email that I didn’t have to have someone read to me, and as I sent my first text message, and as I used the Notes app for simple face to face communication with the sales clerk, he typed to me, “Welcome back to the real world,” and I responded, “It is great to be back.”

Although Apple supports many braille displays and is always adding new ones, I will say that my first display was the American Publishing House for the Blind’s (APH) Refreshabraille 18. This is a perfect display for the iPhone. The little joystick made my ease into the screen reader/braille display world seamless as I had no clue what a braille chord command was or what those little buttons were for at first. The joystick was familiar to me, so I just started moving it and quickly discovered how to move from app to app. First, finding the email app and knowing my email address and ISP information by heart, I set it up and downloaded my email. Then I moved on to text messaging and sent my husband a text even though he was standing right next to me. Then I found a notes app and surmised that it must be a little word processing app similar to notepad on the computer. With that few minutes, I had joined the world again and would never look back.

After getting excited and telling everyone how I was using the iPhone and a braille display, I was asked by a couple of organizations and individuals to help others learn. I did my best to help in person or via email. Eventually, I was asked to write things down, so this little manual came to be a thought. I now hope that the desire to open the world to others without sight and hearing with the use of this integrated technology at a more affordable price will come to fruition through this manual.

 

The Reality: How will this manual help me?

You will find that it should be helpful regardless to which of the Apple supported braille displays you use or how much remaining sight or hearing you have. I am writing it from a totally deaf and blind point of view, hoping that if it can help someone totally without sight and sound that it can help anyone with vision or hearing loss. I am also adding a perspective that might surprise some people including the DeafBlind. Along with accessing the iPhone with just a braille display, I will also add techniques for using the touchscreen for better and faster navigation. The key to this is teaching a person to know their iPhone (and even iPad since they are so similar) like you do your own house. You know those mental maps you make to get around. Yes, even people who haven’t ever had sight before use mental maps of their own design to sort of “see” what is around them. I am using that concept sprinkled throughout to help a person really know and use their iPhone. With this way of “seeing” your iPhone, you will be prepared to easily use the touch screen in a lot of ways to get to what you need even faster than using chord commands at times. I don’t mean totally using a touch screen. Without true vision that would be silly, of course, but if you have an arsenal of navigation techniques, you can learn to move around efficiently and faster.

As far as braille displays go, they vary in features and even some commands. A list of the known braille commands for all supported displays is available in the appendix. The manual is assuming that you can use a braille display for your usual computer needs. I will mention specific chord commands if they are the same across all the devices, but otherwise, I will refer to them by a general chord command name such as advance or select or enter, etc. The directions will be given for navigation in more than one way when possible including a braille display’s linear or forward/back direction, touch screen placement described verbally, chord commands or braille display description, and touch screen gestures, when applicable.

So, let’s start this journey toward making the world accessible to you. It should be a great ride, and one you will never regret. Open yourself to the possibilities. All you need is an iPhone right out of the box and your braille display to gain the world through the iPhone without sight or hearing.

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Laura Dewey Bridgeman

This week is DeafBlind Awareness Week! Helen Keller’s birthday was June 27th. She and her predecessor, Laura Bridgman, made advancements for all DeafBlind people. Both worked hard to overcome their disabilities to become educated. They both wrote and spoke about the needs of the disabled.
Today, there are approximately 100,000 DeafBlind children and adults. We all work hard to overcome the obstacles in our life. We all want to be as independent as possible. We all want to contribute to society and make the world a better place. We are capable of learning and doing many things. We prove that every day.
Sometimes, though, we need help. Education, training, assessable technology, support service providers, etc. are all expensive. There is also a lot of medical research going on to help improve our lives and even one day to provide cures for the causes of DeafBlindness. There are a few organizations that help the DeafBlind. Your support would be appreciated.
Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youth and Adults in Sands Point, NY is the largest by far. They provide intensive training in all areas of a DeafBlind adult’s life. You can learn more about them at http://www.hknc.org.
The American Association for The DeafBlind is another. It is an organization run by the DeafBlind to help educate the public, government, etc. about the needs of the DeafBlind. They also work to provide support to the DeafBlind. You can learn more about them at http://www.aadb.org.
Another organization that helps to provide training and accessible technology to DeafBlind children and adults is DeafBlind Hope. DeafBlind Hope is a small non-profit, but over 99% of the donations go straight to the DeafBlind clients of DeafBlind Hope. We assist parents in learning how to teach their DeafBlind children and raise funds to provide training for adults. We provide technology to children and adults that is suitable for the individual needs. We also work to teach the public that the DeafBlind can do if given the tools they need to become independent. DeafBlind Hope is another organization operated by the DeafBlind for the DeafBlind. The CEO is Renée K. Walker who is DeafBlind and writes this blog. Yes, I am talking about me. I sincerely work every day to make the lives of the DeafBlind easier and more productive. We all just want to become as independent as possible and do our part in making the world a better place. You can find out more about us at http://deafblindhope.org
Please learn more about deafblindness and how it affects these children and adults. Consider helping one of these organizations. You will be bringing Hope to the DeafBlind!

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I have missed a few months updating my blogs. I am really sorry. Unfortunately, I have been very ill, and I had emergency surgery a month ago today. I have been told that I almost died. Of course, I am thankful to God that He still has more for me to do, so I am still here. Life is good. I am ready and looking forward to Heaven, but I want to stay here for as long as God will allow me to serve Him. I will now get back to more regular updates of what is going on in my life, homeschooling, and DeafBlind Hope with my journey through the Dark Silence. Today’s post is a little of all three of those.

I have had a few shares of my own column on Homeschool Mosaics, but I haven’t plugged myself. I even missed last month’s post I did because I was having surgery. So, I think I should catch up a little. And don’t forget, there are other writers even more talented and interesting than me on Homeschool Mosaics every day, so check them out, please. I haven’t been able to plug for them due to being so sick and then recovering for surgery. These writers are certainly worth looking into. Now to see my post for last month and this month go to http://www.homeschoolmosaics.com.

My post for May is at http://homeschoolmosaics.com/om-cane-skills/. I hope you enjoy it. I also had a post of my column go live today as well. It is found at http://homeschoolmosaics.com/guide-dogs-the-perfect-upgrade/. I think you will find some uplifting stories here about my wonderful guide dog, Joey.

I will come back soon and tell you about my experiences in the hospital from a disabled perspective.

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Well, today is the day I have a new post on Homeschool Mosaics! Please check it out. I think it is pretty interesting and informative. I enjoyed writing it, anyway. LOL http://homeschoolmosaics.com/mama-look-its-helen-keller/

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Homeschool Mosaics is my newest writing venture and connects in topic to my posts here at DeafBlind Hope: The Journey. I will be writing there about my journey in the Dark Silence as I teach children and help other DeafBlind people. There are many other readers at Mosaics, all from different aspects of life and homeschooling. Come check it out. We are also having a Facebook Launch Party tonight at 8:00 pm EDT with lots of prizes including those from DeafBlind Hope involving braille and ASL. Definitely show up for that! We have lots of big name sponsors for this events. You don’t want to miss it. Oh, and my column’s name is Homeschool Touches: Living and Schooling Through the Dark Silence.
Ok, here are the links: http://www.homeschoolmosaics.com
and https://www.facebook.com/events/230738350358421/
The Homeschool Mosaics Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/HomeschoolMosaics. Stop by and LIKE us!

I will be there. I hope you will be, too.

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Touch Points
By Renée K. Walker
It is a new year as I write this column. I am thankful for so many blessings in my life and the ability to find ways to still be productive despite being deaf and blind. I think we all want that for ourselves. The New Year coming also gives us time for reflecting on what we want to change about ourselves and our lives. Often, we keep our reflections to beneficial but more surface aspects such as losing a few pounds or starting a new hobby or learning to lead a less busy life. After a hectic year of fighting some of the usual DeafBlind issues such as needing interpreters for doctor visits and being included in social and family events, I couldn’t help but remember the many comments made to me from readers of this column and comments from others in other DeafBlind venues on forums or Facebook. The common thread I heard was about negative attitudes among not just the hearing/sighted members but also those of other disabled people even DeafBlind people. That saddens me. I, too, have felt the negative attitudes and had hoped my experiences were isolated. For these reasons, my reflections this year turned more outward than inward with the desire of change being for all of us.
The comments seem to relate similar incidents as my own, so I will mention just a few here. I am sure you can relate to a few and add your own. I have encountered the usual hearing/sighted issues that you have read about even here before, but the ones that distress me the most come from other disabled especially other DeafBlind. Many Deaf will not socialize with me except through an interpreter. They actually fear the touch of tactile ASL. A few have even expressed their displeasure that ASL is even used by the DeafBlind at all since these few think it should only be a visual language. Then there are the blind and other disabled who also have disabled parking permits as I do complain that I don’t look handicapped, so I should walk like everyone else. I have my reasons and have had a permit longer than I have been both deaf and blind. It had nothing to do with vision or hearing issues. I do still prefer to use it even for those reasons because of my safety and the safety of my guide dog as I try to harness him and often have almost been hit just trying to get us both out of the vehicle. There are also the few totally blind who feel that those who have some vision shouldn’t be considered part of their group because the ones with some vision still don’t know what it is like to have no sight. Then there are the few Deaf and some DeafBlind who are culturally Deaf and feel that only native ASL signers can be culturally Deaf. I have been deaf since a young child, but I learned to speak and the oral method was the only method available to me because there was no Deaf community near me in the places that we lived as I grew up. You can’t learn what isn’t there, but that doesn’t make my experiences as a deaf child that much different from others except possibly more difficult, since I didn’t have a visual language to build on or a family or community in which I could full participate. Now that I know ASL and wish to practice it more to fluency, I find it disheartening when a DeafBlind person literally pushes my hands away because they realize I am not a native speaker, and they decide they do not wish to have further contact with me. The DeafBlind community is already very small and widely dispersed. When we often don’t fit in with the Deaf community, you would think that we would be happy to share with any other DeafBlind person, since many of us claim that isolation and loneliness are friends we have that we prefer not to have.
My experiences are similar to many others. These experiences are like walls being placed around me keeping me contained in room that seems to grow smaller. Truthfully, I have referred to these experiences as being with negative attitudes, but they are actually nothing more than outright prejudices. A person can be more than just racially prejudiced. Prejudice doesn’t have limitations. Anyone can be prejudiced, and they can be prejudiced about many different things and people. These prejudices against people who don’t sign or didn’t sign until later, who are not totally blind, who don’t look disabled, or others are dividing a small group into even smaller groups and causing even more pain than the society as a whole that tends to ignore us at best. It is often easier to cope with pain from outsiders than from those who are the same or similar. You would also expect that people who have been hurt by others because they are different would have more compassion for others who are different. Sadly, that isn’t always the case. Humans are capable of much pain to each other, and sometimes those who have been hurt can inflict even more on the ones around them.
In addition to the pain caused and the barriers of further isolation that are created, the disabled group that could stand together as one and have a louder and stronger voice is weakened to the point of being inaudible and useless. The good we could achieve for everyone as a whole is diminished to nothing. The one group is broken into so many small slivers that there are too few fighting for a specific issue. As one, we could fight with a strong, loud voice for many issues that would benefit us all. But, no, we can’t do that because we are too full of anger at another who is slightly different to recognize that the other is actually more like us that we could be the same.
Damage caused to our voice by these prejudices is great, and the good we could achieve will continue to be weak and slow. The pain that we cause each other will continue to isolate us more and more until we each stand alone. Does that sound like a future that anyone of us would want? Do we even really want to wish that on someone else just because they are a little different from us?
Reflect on your own attitudes as this year begins to move into Spring, the season of newness. You may not be one of the few are among the ones mentioned here. It is good that I can say it is the “few,” but unfortunately, the few can cause much dissension and create enough chaos amongst the many that little can be achieved. If the few can see that their attitudes are no different and no less harmful than the prejudices of racism to our society and work toward new and positive attitudes toward others, change for good can happen. If the many can be willing to lovingly stand against the prejudices of the few to show that there is a better way, the disabled can come together and work for a brighter future filled with the ability to be independent and productive. I am only one person, but it can start with one. Who will join me?
If you have comments about this topic, you may write a letter in braille or print to Renée Walker, 143 Williamson Dr, Macon, GA 31210; or you may email me at rkwalker@wynfieldca.org. You can also read and comment on my blog at http://www.deafblindhope.wordpress.com. You can also check me out at http://www.facebook.com/reneekwalker.

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